Monthly Archives: October 2013

Graded on a Curve:
Lou Reed, Berlin

Lou Reed is gone, and the last few days have found the internet afire with deserving tributes to the man and his work. There are of course many angles one can use to add further laudatory thoughts, but after pulling out numerous LPs in remembrance, all of this writer’s roads led back to his amazing and underrated 1973 album Berlin.

Thinking about it, the title of Transformer is truly apropos, for the record found Lou Reed morphing from an inhabitant of the musical fringe and into a legitimate commercial property as he scored a victory for the serious-side of glam-rock. Not a particularly astute observation, I know. But the name of Reed’s second solo LP also serves as an accurate descriptor of the man’s subsequent career trajectory. And yeah, I’m sure that’s already been said numerous times, but it bears repeating.

For in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll, no major figure managed to confound expectations to the extent and for as long as Reed did. Neil Young had a nice run at it, but compared to Lou he’s Bruce Springsteen, though it is true that the in the 1980s Reed started smoothing things out a bit. And beginning with ‘89’s New York he commenced a run of five records that gave a lengthy but false impression of the man adjusting to middle age and even accepting rock elder status.

But the appearance of 2003’s The Raven, a guest-star heavy Poe-focused concept disc, saw the mask loosening, and with the release of the T’ai chi-inspired meditational music of The Hudson River Wind Meditations in ’07, the jig was up. The next year began a series of collaborations; the first, The Stone: Issue Three, is a plunge into hairy-assed improv-skronk with his wife Laurie Anderson and NYC sax titan John Zorn, and the second is The Creation of the Universe, a lengthy experimental noise whopper by a group credited as Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Trio that was made available via Reed’s website.

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Nine tunes that will scare you shitless…

You’re alone in the dark, and the only voices of reason you have are your thoughts. Don’t be fooled; darkness is not a place of solitude. Sounds that are ordinarily mundane, like a dripping faucet or a creaky wood floor, become amplified, grabbing your undivided attention. If you’re devoid of light for too long, these sounds might completely betray you.

Welcome to the sadistic and moribund world of Halloween. Below we’ve compiled a list of song with lyrics and situations that will make you look behind your back and perhaps leave you scared…shitless.

Megadeth – Go to Hell

Don’t fear the reaper? That’s nonsense when your soul is wagered on a game of eternal blackjack. The Charon, the ghastly oarsman that shepherds souls, bears little comparison to the fateful entity that has dominion over the realm of fire and brimstone. Uncorrupted minds everywhere: if you hear Dave Mustaine’s verses, rebuke them immediately. Or damnation will be upon you.

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TVD Recommends: Galactic at the Civic Theater tonight, 10/31

The Noveau funk band has moved its All Hallows’ Eve festivities to the newest hip spot in town, the Civic Theater. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band opens the show at 10:30 PM.

Galactic’s traditional Halloween throwdown is always a no-holds-barred affair. The band is encouraging fans to dress in costume for the show. New Orleanians don’t need any incentive in that regard, but they are promising a “sweet” prize to the winner.

Ever since Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet left the group, they have mixed up the vocalist spot with an ever-revolving cast of talent. A newcomer to this listener, Maggie Koerner, is scheduled to join the band.

Koerner sang on “Hey Na Na” from the Carnival Electricos album. But I haven’t heard her sing with the band in the live setting yet. A brief perusal of Galactic’s set lists has her singing the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and other gems. It will be an epic night.

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UK Vinyl Video:
The Birthday Suit,
“A Bigger World”

With The Birthday Suit’s third album A Hollow Hole Of Riches on the way in 2014, “A Bigger World” feels like their statement of intent. Headed by Rod Jones of Idlewild, they’ve now got two albums under their belt and a smattering of singles that ranged from the spiky, riff fueled Idlewild days to more sing along indie romps. They’ve refined their sound and now music fans and Idlewilders are really starting to take notice.

The track features Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit whom you can see projected onto the wall in the background of the video. Scott provided some vocals and the riff you hear at the end of the single. It’s a very simple video with the band playing energetically as the song crescendos to a glorious end.

This is really exciting stuff from The Birthday Suit and they are starting to look and feel less like “Rod Jones’ solo project” and much more like a band. Roll on 2014 and the third album!

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TVD’s Fright Night
in Canada

Halloween is here and these Canadian artists want to help set you in just the right mood. With a wide variety of music and spooky videos, this playlist will do just that.

Happy Halloween!

“Monster Hospital”
Metric Official | Facebook | Twitter

“I’m Confused”
Handsome Furs Official | Facebook | Twitter

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Shell Zenner Presents

Greater Manchester’s most in the know radio host Shell Zenner broadcasts the best new music every week on the UK’s Amazing Radio and Bolton FM. You can also catch Shell’s broadcast right here at TVD, each and every Thursday.

“Featuring tracks by Pictish Trail, Mood Rings, Cameron The Public, Asgeir, Maps, and more.”SZ

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Stiff Records releases Ten Big Stiffs, a Limited Edition 7″ Box Set for Black Friday

While we’ve grown to be a bit agnostic when it comes to the twice yearly parachute drop of physical product into the local mom and pop record shops, one gem has come onto our radar we’d like to put on yours for Black Friday, 2013. The Stiff Records Ten Big Stiffs 7″ box set houses a double handful of the legendary label’s singular achievements—and a mere 1,000 of them will be available to purchase come Friday, 11/29.

In addition, we’ve been given 2 T-shirts to give away to herald the arrival of Ten Big Stiffs, but first some official background:

“Founded in 1976, Stiff Records was at the heart of the new wave, bringing the world artists as diverse as Elvis Costello, Kirsty MacColl and Ian Dury and what is generally regarded as the first ever punk rock single, “New Rose” by The Damned. The label set the yardstick for music business marketing, with artwork by Barney Bubbles and an array of memorable slogans, not least “If It Ain’t Stiff, It Ain’t Worth A Fuck.”

Stiff continues to this day, with the 2012 UK #1 single “Bom Bom” by Sam And The Womp and a back catalog comprising 150 singles and more than 50 albums of revered 70s and 80s pop, punk, and rock.

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The Orwells, and Shark Week at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 10/26

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a show like the one I attended last Saturday night on H Street. The good people at the Rock and Roll Hotel served up a triple dose of mischievous antics from bands near and far. I could blame Saturday evening’s happenings on the full moon hovering a little too close to the club that night, or I could just chalk it up as the last weekend before All Hollow’s Eve, when the powers of the strange and unusual are in full swing.

Anyhow, whatever the reason may be, I believe that without a doubt, we need more shows like this in DC. It reminded me of the old days when hardcore shows were not only fun and emotional, but they were an experience you would walk away from and still remember, which is rare these days.

On the bill for Saturday night’s line-up were three bands that certainly did their part to bring show-goers all the pulse-pounding action you could handle: FIDLAR, The Orwells, and Shark Week. All three bands did their best to mix a little bit of havoc into their sets and take the crowd for the ride of their lives, or at least take them to a nice and cozy place in their minds.

Along with quite a bit of good old-fashioned crowd surfing, stage diving, bottle tossing, water spitting, and instrument throwing, the onstage antics had accumulated to make for one messy venue by night’s end. Back in the day, from time to time, shows got a little rough, and that was expected. To see it now is almost unheard of, unless I’ve been going to the wrong places.

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Harvest the Music and Jazz in the Park concert series close this week

It’s a sure sign that the holiday season (which separates the two festival seasons in New Orleans) is upon us when the two premier outdoor showcases for local talent shut down until Spring. It’s your last chance to get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather during the week.

Both Harvest the Music, which takes place today at 5 PM in Lafayette Square, and Jazz in the Park, which closes out its series tomorrow in Armstrong Park, are going out with a bang.


Today, expect to hear Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes (pictured above) opening for Raw Oyster Cult. There is a considerable amount of cross-pollination between the two groups. The Dirty Notes’ bassist Dave Pomerleau also plays bass in Raw Oyster Cult and Camile Baudoin, one of the two guitarists in Raw Oyster Cult, sits in often enough with the Dirty Notes that he has his own “Johnny” nickname. Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s hear it for Johnny Pirogue.

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Jus Post Bellum,
The TVD First Date

“My dad is a drummer, and while I was growing up he played in several funk/soul/blues bands. I remember vividly looking at the covers of all his mostly 80s vinyl, full of Prince, Michael Jackson, Rick James, Tina Turner, and even that Eddie Murphy record. Needless to say, there were lots of jheri curls, men in dance belts, and variations on the jumpsuit.”

“Growing up in the blanche suburbs of Minneapolis, it goes without saying that I didn’t have the best grasp on a normative African-American male image. These album covers were part of my norm. My mother was also a seamstress and made many of my brother’s and my outfits to reverse color match (she had a line of matching mother daughter wear.) Again, I assumed this was just the norm.

I loved spandex (and still do), tap dancing, James Brown and his loyal side man, Maceo. I knew that the words “give the drummer some” or “tighten up” meant a good time was to be had. I played saxophone from the age of 10, and joined my dad’s 10-man soul band on some of those funk dates once my chops were decent. In my pre-adolescence, my dad’s vinyl collection seemed to be a portal to a distant but very real world. The crackly sound of the needle dropping affirmed these strange kindred spirits were living out the very lives pictured on the big, tactile jackets while I was growing faint facial hair in my parent’s basement.

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Brick + Mortar,

Brick and Mortar are a drum and bass duo from New Jersey, but they don’t play traditional drum ‘n bass. It’s simply their instruments of choice. Singer and bassist Brandon Asraf and drummer John Tacon have just released the best debut album I have heard in the past ten years. It’s my pick for album of the year in 2013 and if this band is not a household name, or topping every hipster’s playlist in the near future, then I am sorry to say that the entire music industry is broken.

Imagine that Adele had a secret love child with Hot Hot Heat that was raised by a band of storytelling gypsies. The songwriting is brilliant, the subject matter is riveting, and the musicianship is stellar. This is the type of band that comes along once every decade or so if we are lucky. I love this record so much that I reached out and requested an interview with these guys to learn more about them, and I had some questions around their mysterious songs and videos.

What you are about to read is a conversation that I had with a band that I think is going to be the biggest breakout success story of the year in 2014. The answers are honest, revealing, and quite surprising from a band that is on a “major label” and getting ready to hit the road for their first U.S. tour. Read the interview, then go buy the record. You will not be disappointed.

Hailing from New Jersey have you ever seen Jon Bon Jovi or the Boss around town?

Brandon: I work at the movies part-time, and after we got back from Lollapalooza, I was back at work and Bruce Springsteen came in and I sold him some water and Popcorn. I of course told him I was in a band; he was really nice. I never thought I would meet Bruce Springsteen while serving up popcorn, but I did. I’ve never come across Jon Bon though. I always come across a dude that I think it’s him because of the hair, but then they turn around and it’s just a housewife.

You guys call him Jon Bon in Jersey?

Brandon: No one really talks about him up here, so we don’t have to call him anything.

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Graded on a Curve:
Otis Clay, Trying to Live My Life Without You

Even though he had some hits, Otis Clay never achieved great fame as a soul man. He’s made some fine discs over the years however, and if prime soul circa the early-‘70s fits into your bag, then you may want to check out the reissue of Trying to Live My Life without You. Initially released in 1972 by Hi Records, a definite signifier of soul quality, the LP is currently being offered on vinyl by Fat Possum. Amongst other redeeming qualities, it’s serves as the best representation of his work under the auspices of renowned producer Willie Mitchell.

Though he’s accumulated numerous honors and is still active today, Otis Clay’s career continues to be defined by the records he cut in the 1970s for the Hi imprint of Memphis, Tennessee. And those who recognize Hi as the label responsible for one of the greatest of all soul movers Al Green should have no problem understanding why Clay’s tenure there produced his most famous stuff.

At the time, Green certainly overshadowed every other Hi artist including the consistent hit-maker Ann Peebles, but it’s also undeniable that his massive popularity was simultaneously positive for the roster as a whole. Without it, it’s very unlikely that Clay’s singles there would’ve ended up partially comprising his debut LP.

But if surely a fruitful association, Clay’s relationship with that now storied company has unfortunately not delivered him from the well-populated ranks of underappreciated soul belters. Where the star of his Hi cohort Syl Johnson has steadily risen to the point where he is now accurately described as a cult figure (with a 4CD/6LP Numero Group box set to his credit), the same circumstance has thus far eluded Clay.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Lily & Madeleine (s/t) Prize Pack

Who knew that when singer-songwriter duo Lily & Madeleine published their first YouTube video last year, their performance would gain over 300,000 views. The sisters are only teenagers, after all.

But listen to the soulful maturity with which they sing, and you’d swear these young women have been recording for years. It’s no wonder that just one year later the two are releasing a gorgeous full-length album—out just today (10/29) on Asthmatic Kitty Records—and are well on their way to taking the music world by storm.

Despite their adolescence, the duo—that is, Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz, ages 16 and 19 respectively—perform with a wisdom beyond their young years. Madeleine’s folkier, almost angelic voice in tandem with Lily’s edgier, more sultry tones yield harmony which could only so seamlessly come from two artists who’ve known each other their whole lives. The result is an effortlessly congruent sound marked by striking simplicity, delicate instrumentation—and raw talent.

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TVD Recommends:
HIP Fest at the Blue Nile, next Tuesday and Wednesday, 11/5–11/6

Improvised music has had a home at the Blue Nile for five years under the direction of trombonist Jeff Albert. When Italian drummer Marcello Benetti moved to New Orleans, the leadership got a shot in the arm.

Together they formed a non-profit, N.O.I.S.E. (New Orleans International Sound Exchange), and now they are bringing adventurous music lovers the HIP (Hosting Improvising Performers) Fest. These guys love acronyms and they love to turn listeners on to the wide range of artists that work under the “improvised music” umbrella.

“I fell in love with the town and the people,” said Benetti “This city is filled with rich culture—reflected through its art, food and music—that brings the most diverse people together to celebrate a place unlike any other. New Orleans respects and appreciates all forms of music, and I’m looking forward to expanding upon that with improvised music.”

Tuesday and Wednesday nights the HIP Fest will take over the downstairs main room of the Blue Nile (Open Ears is held every Tuesday upstairs.) Three world-class artists will join local stalwarts such as Helen Gillet, Rex Gregory, Aurora Nealand, and Jesse Morrow.

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TVD Album Premiere: Borrowed Beams of Light, On the Wings of
a Bug

“We have always recorded our history, our art, and our stories in order to safeguard them—to make sure they aren’t forgotten, and to ensure they will outlive us. I believe that physical media is important because it’s the proof that a moment existed.”

“You can hold it in your hands, and take comfort in knowing it’s really there. And as far as music goes, wax is the best. It looks great. It sounds great. Hell, it smells great. This digital thing is the pits if you ask me, because one day the lights are gonna go out, and its all going to be gone–like a dream you forget in the first five minutes of a new day.

Those of us who collect vinyl are more than mere music lovers. We are historians. We’re anthropologists. Digging around at yard sales, thrift stores and flea markets is more than just a hobby. It’s like being freaking Indiana Jones. A decade into my career as a vinyl collector, pulling a gem from a pile of wreckage is still a rush.

Traveling the country, both with the Borrowed Beams, but also with my other group, Invisible Hand, record shopping and crate digging has helped preserve my sanity, given me something to do, to look forward to as we pull into each new city, road-wrecked or homesick.

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